Rani Rampal has been made chief coach of the Indian sub-junior girls team but she said that she hasn’t retired as a player yet.
Former India captains Sardar Singh and Rani Rampal have been made chief coaches of the national sub-junior boys’ and girls’ teams respectively, Hockey India President Dilip Tirkey announced on Thursday. While Sardar retired as a player in in September 2018, 28-year-old Rani is yet to officially do so.
When asked on Thursday if she had ended her playing career, Rani responded by asking why she hasn’t been selected in the national squad since the end of the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. “I haven’t retired, I will continue playing,” said Rani. “Whatever happened with me in past two years is not right. Despite performing at the top level, I was ignored. The best person to answer this (if I am retired) is the coach and I think everybody wants to know it,” said Rani rather angrily.
Rani said that she accepted the coaching gig as it is a short-term programme that could later be converted into a long-term one. “This is short-term programme for me. I want to give back to the sport which has given me so much. I will keep trying to play whenever I get a chance, I still have hope. Let’s see how it goes. I won’t give up,” she said.
Rani had been pretty much the face of the women’s hockey team as their captain and star performer going into the Tokyo Olympics. She led the team to a historic fourth place finish at the Games before being ruled out of action due to an injury and a subsequent surgery. In the time, Sjoerd Marijne left the India women’s team as head coach and was replaced by Janneke Schopmann.
Rani has not been able to get back into the team since returning to full fitness, even scoring a whopping 18 goals in six matches in the 2022 National Games with goalkeeper Savita Punia since replacing her as captain of the team. Rani last represented India in January during their tour of South Africa
‘Sub-junior teams nurture players at an early age’: Tirkey
The decision to consitute the teams was made by Hockey India after its 100th Executive Board Meeting. “We are making a sub-junior hockey team under Hockey India for the first time. So, that they are nurtured at an early age. Sardar Singh will be Chief Coach of the sub-junior boys team and Rani Rampal will be chief coach of the sub-junior girls team,” Tirkey said in a press conference on Thursday. Tirkey also said that Hockey India will start an annual program to unearth more drag-flickers as they want to nurture players at an early age.